I skipped Vista (except for one machine in the lab that we have to run it on because a certain bit of microscopy software won't work with anything else). By the way, even on a pretty high-powered Dell Precision 690 workstaion with 12 GB of RAM and a medium/high-end Nvidia graphics card, Vista (64-bit) is still slow, annoying, and about as painful to use as Windows 98 on Jen's 233 MHz Pentium laptop she used in college. But this post isn't about Vista, it is about how much better Windows 7 is than Vista.
Since the Windows 7 Beta was released to the public on 1/9/09, I've ignored the advice not to run this on production machines and installed it on the second partition of my MacBook Pro. Through the Beta, the Release Candidate, and now with the RTM freshly installed, I've gotten the feeling that Windows 7 is finally giving Mac OS X a run for it's money (that is, until 10.6 came out). A few observations:
Windows 7 is way faster than Vista, and is even faster than Windows XP on my machine.
- From the Beta through the RTM, it has been the most stable version of Windows I've ever used. I even ran a data analysis loop using IGOR Pro overnight and it didn't crash.
- The windows management—docking right, left, and top; aero previews, etc.—is actually a bit superior to the Mac. I really like being able to throw one window to the right of the screen and one to the left in order to compare their contents side-by-side. This works especially well on multiple monitors.
- Taskbar and Start Menu search make organizing and finding applications and files incredibly easy—comparable to Quicksilver on the Mac.
- Much like Mac OS X, there are just a lot of incremental changes that show that the developers paid good attention to detail to enhance the overall experience.
In sum, Windows 7 is a huge step in the right direction for Microsoft and upgrading from Windows XP was a no-brainer.